Bourjaily: Beretta's Shotgun Break-In Machine

The machine pictured above is one more interesting things I saw at the Beretta factory: the shotgun break-in machine.

Every A400 Xplor action gets a turn on the machine. Two barreled receivers go in the rests at a time and metal arms clamp onto the bolt handles (the break-in machine operator is about to put a second barreled action in the machine. You can see the arm that will fit over the bolt). The other end of the arm is attached to a wheel which spins very fast, working the arm back and forth, slamming the actions open and shut. It loolks like an old-fashioned steam locomotive when it gets going.

In two minutes on the machine the action cycles 500 times -- the equivalent of running twenty boxes of heavy ammunition through the gun.

A lot of people recommend ... breaking-in a semiautomatic shotgun by firing four or five boxes of heavy loads through it. The break-in process smooths burrs in the action, lets metal parts wear in, and generally imroves the gun's performance. It's a good idea. After a little breaking in, some semiautos -- especially the newer models -- will perform impressive feats of functioning. A couple of summers ago I had a Browning Silver on extended loan. Atlhough the manual recommended nothing lighter than one ounce loads, it would cycle my 1200fps, ¾ ounce 12 gauge reloads all day long after I shot three or four boxes of heavy hunting loads through it.

Breaking in a gun isn't that tedious a job. I certainly don't mind doing it myself, but I still thought it was pretty cool that Beretta had a machine that did it for you.